Have you ever seen messaging from a well-known brand that made you shake your head in confusion? Maybe one of your favorite companies released a product or service that just didn’t fit the brand you’ve grown to know and love. A departure from your brand mission and vision could happen if you’re not careful, and the result is always confusion among your buyers and fans.
In most cases, this departure from the brand is an attempt to grow or to stay relevant during changing times. To avoid these mistakes, you must first know what they are. Let’s take a look at some flubs that could change the way your audience perceives your brand.
Your brand messaging takes place across several different platforms, from your social media and website to your print materials and videos. In many cases, the differences found on each medium boils down to the people responsible for those individual platforms.
For instance, the writer of your website content may not have any say in the copy used for your advertisements or video scripts. The social media manager might not be aware of the copy used for your retargeting ads. On top of all that, your website designer and graphic designer may be two separate people who have created their own interpretation of your brand’s aesthetic—and the two visuals could differ enough that recipients of your brand message aren’t sure which message is true to your brand.
The solution comes in two parts: first, a style guide that lays out your preferred language choices, fonts, colors, and other imagery. Second, there must be one person directing all messaging that reaches the public. This director may not do all the work, but they should see everything before it goes out, so as to ensure all messaging is consistent and on brand.
Changing With the Times
Trends changes at a blistering pace, and a brand that doesn’t keep up with the times could find themselves woefully out of touch within a short amount of time. Does that mean you need to update your logo and imagery every time the trends change? Absolutely not.
Brands that do adopt the trends as quickly as they change will eventually find themselves without an audience, as buyers struggle to keep up with the changes their favorite brand is making.
Instead, develop something that will stand the test of time. Using every one of the latest trends will make your brand look dated within no time, resulting in yet another brand refresh.
It’s important to approach any brand refresh carefully, and only after fully examining your brand’s effectiveness. If you feel you’ve lost touch with your target audience, then perhaps a brand refresh is in order—just not every six months.
Trading Relevance for Visibility
Reaching a wider audience is any brand’s dream, but you can’t give up everything you stand for to get your fifteen minutes of fame. The problem is, you may not even realize you’re trading relevance for visibility until it’s too late.
Some of the biggest mistakes you can make include major social media faux pas, introducing or attaching your name to confusing products, and participating in guerilla marketing that backfires.
Social media faux pas can happen before you even realize it. Have you read any of the horror stories about companies that jumped on a hashtag bandwagon, only to realize later they were associating their brand with something totally irrelevant? One of the most cringeworthy is the Kenneth Cole Twitter account, where the brand constantly shoves a foot in its mouth. In this case, we think perhaps the brand likes the notoriety too much, but it’s not something other brand should emulate.
As for attaching your brand to the wrong product, look no further than the Fyre Festival debacle. Kendall Jenner is definitely a brand, and her connection to the Fyre Festival as an influencer was damaged—perhaps irreparably, since she also has to deal with the Pepsi commercial fallout, too—when the festival went belly up before it began but after fans had already arrived!
As for a backfiring guerilla marketing campaign, there are probably too many to even mention. Some are excruciating to watch, while others just prompt a grimace. The movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall launched a campaign that irritated every real Sarah Marshall out there, as they installed posters with mean messages to the Sarah Marshall character in the movie. Lines like, “My mother always hated you Sarah Marshall,” and “You suck, Sarah Marshall,” prompted all the actual Sarah Marshalls out there to react with their own posters directed to the creators of the movie.
Your company’s brand is your most invaluable asset. You’ve worked hard to develop this image and to build an audience that understands your values. In all cases, put your brand first. You could avoid some of these crazy mistakes and keep your image intact. That’s a lot more valuable than fifteen minutes of fame.
This article originally appeared in Marketing Initiative Worx.